2021 Toyota Venza Review by Larry Nutson +VIDEO
Ultimate Urban Crossover
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
The Venza nameplate is back in the Toyota model mix for 2021. In case you missed it, the Venza went away in 2015 after a 7-year run.
So yes, another utility vehicle (UV) is on the market. But that’s a good thing; more choices for the car buying public. The Venza fits in the Toyota lineup between the RAV4 and the Highlander.
Venza is a midsize 2-row, 5-seater that is offered only in all-wheel drive (AWD) and only with a hybrid drivetrain. Venza is very much an urban crossover; very car like, with moderate overall size and good versatility. Actually, many of the new urban crossovers on the market today are actually the new definition of a car.
Prior to my Venza drive experience Toyota partnered with the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), of which I am a member, and hosted a web-based MAMA eMeet to review key highlights of the all-new Venza.
Ryan Matsumoto, Toyota’s vehicle marketing and communications planner, led a product presentation and fielded live questions from MAMA members. Matsumoto pointed out that with the Venza Toyota was raising the standard of what an urban crossover should be.
Venza is nicely styled both in and out with a premium look and feel. The exterior has a clean look, with a stylish LED headlight signature placed above a large grille, and a raked roofline flowing into slim full width LED taillights.
The cockpit features extensive use of soft-touch materials and a well-executed two-tone color palate. There’s an overall refined and elegant look.
Depending on trim level either an 8-inch or 12.3-inch touchscreen is equipped. Venza comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0, a suite of advanced driver-assistance safety (ADAS) features which includes lane tracing assist, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system with pedestrian and bicyclist detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams and road sign assist.
A growing trend across car makers is to offer only a hybrid engine. All Venzas have a 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine mated to two electric motors with a total of 219 system horsepower. A CVT automatic drives the AWD system. A third, rear-mounted electric motor is engaged when needed to drive the rear wheels when front wheel slip is detected and to improve cornering, transferring up to 80 percent of motive power to the rear wheels.
EV, ECO, Normal and Sport modes are driver selectable. EPA fuel economy ratings are 39 combined mpg with 40 city mpg and 37 highway mpg. Note that hybrids yield lower fuel consumption in city-type driving.
Venza is offered in LE, XLE and Limited trims with a starting manufacturer estimated retail price (MSRP) of $32,470 for LE, $36,000 for XLE and $39,800 for Limited, plus a delivery, processing and handling (DPH) fee of $1,175.
Options include: Special Color for all trims ($425), for XLE trim - SofTex trimmed seats ($510) and 12.3 inch JBL Premium Audio ($2,050), and for Limited trim - Advanced Technology ($725) and Star Gaze Panoramic Roof ($1,400).
For my Chicago-area drive experience I drove a Limited trim with the optional Advanced Tech and Star Gaze roof for a total MSPR of $43,100.
The Advanced Tech package includes a head-up display, a feature I like since it saves from the frequent glances down to the instrument cluster to check speed. The Star Gaze electrochromic panoramic roof has a bit of a wow factor. There’s an opaque sliding panel you can open. With the push of a button the glass roof changes from clear to frosted letting in light but no harsh sun rays.
The Venza is nicely quiet to drive. It rides on a new platform that enables very good NVH characteristics. The cabin noise level is low making for easy conversation and reduced overall driving fatigue. There’s decent performance from the engine and drivetrain making for satisfying overall drivability.
Features on the Limited---almost becoming an expectation on every vehicle, include heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, power-fold outside mirrors, 360-view camera, and hands-free liftgate. The 9- speaker 1200-watt JBL audio made for great listening to my favorite music genres. I thought the bi-color black and java interior trim to be very attractive and well executed.
The other two lower trims come nicely equipped and might be the right choice if you don’t want or need “everything.”
The front seating is very comfortable. Seating three adults in the rear could be tight, but the young ones will be just fine. There’s 28.8 cu.ft. of storage behind the second row which increases to and 74.6 cu.ft. with the rear bench folded.
Check out more details the new 2021 Toyota Venza HERE. The new Venza was just named a Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy and is a candidate for North American Utility of the Year and also MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year. Positioned as the “ultimate urban crossover,” the Venza offers versatility and distinction with a “quiet confidence.” Venza is in dealers now.
© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago